University of Sydney Student Representative Council Endorses Academic BDS

From Australian Students for Justice in Palestine on 10 April, 2013:

The Student Representative Council at the University of Sydney passed a motion endorsing Associate Professor Jake Lynch’s academic boycott of Israel this week.

The motion was brought forth in response to attacks against Associate Professor Jake Lynch for refusing to assist Dan Avnon – a visiting academic from Hebrew University in Israel – in December.

The Student Representative Council (SRC) also voted to support an end to all university ties with Technion University in Haifa, Israel.

Dr Lynch, who is the director of Sydney University’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies said: “By continuing institutional links to Israeli high education, universities here risk unwittingly becoming indirectly complicit in violations of international laws and abuses of human rights.”

Erima Dall, the SRC member who put the motion forward, said boycotting institutional links with Israel is a necessary action.

“We cannot normalise relations with Israeli institutions complicit in the occupation of Palestine. Students at the University of Sydney should not, and do not, want to be endorsing these crimes. A clear message needs to be sent – Israel needs to end the occupation and its colonisation of Palestinian land, end apartheid, stop building its settler-colonies, and allow the right of return to Palestinians,” she said.

Suzanne Asad, the president of Students for Justice in Palestine at USYD, echoed these sentiments and said students and citizens of conscience should stand up for justice and human rights in Palestine, and support boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

“If we don’t end Sydney University’s links with the Technion and other Israeli institutions, then we are implicated in the crimes committed against Palestine,” she said.

The statement, which the SRC voted to sign and publish, states:
“Israel is a state that systematically defies international law. It has occupied Palestinian territories in defiance of the UN Security Council for over 40 years, expanding settlements which are regarded as illegal by the international community.

“Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) is a non-violent and effective strategy to help end Israeli impunity and move towards the realisation of the Palestinians’ rights. The Hebrew University is clearly implicated in the illegal occupation as its Mount Scopus campus occupies land in East Jerusalem which is internationally recognised as being on the Palestinian side of the Green Line.”

Technion University is involved in manufacturing unmanned aerial vehicles and the building of illegal separation wall annexing Palestinian land in the West Bank. The statement states: “Technion…is an Israeli university uniquely and directly implicated in war crimes. (Its) research history includes the development of the remote control D9 bulldozer used to demolish Palestinian homes in violation of the Geneva Conventions and it has strong links to Elbit Systems – the company that produces technology for the apartheid wall declared illegal by the International Court of Justice.”

State Labor MP, Lynda Voltz, said it is appropriate for the SRC, given its strong tradition of supporting oppressed people and injustice, to support their academic staff in calling for an end to ties with Technion.

“Israel continues to ignore the United Nations. It builds illegal settlements on the land of the Palestinian people, destroys their houses, builds a wall around their homes and blockades the Port of Gaza to punish the 1.6million men, women and children who live there,” she said.

“Israel does not listen to words or motions and continues to abuse human rights and to act in violation of international laws. As in South Africa, it is only through the peaceful actions of campaigns such as the BDS that any change will happen,” Voltz said.

The statement has been endorsed by Mary Kostakidis, the Convener of the Peace Prize jury and co-winner of the University of Sydney Alumni Award for Community Achievement, and Emeritus Professor Stuart Rees who is the Chair of the Sydney Peace Foundation.

Jennine Abdul Khalik, Australian Students for Justice in Palestine executive, said she commended the SRC for choosing to stand on the right side of history.

“Australian universities, including the University of Sydney, need to condemn Israeli apartheid and follow the example of academic institutions and student unions throughout North America, Europe, and South Africa that have endorsed BDS and boycotted and divested from Israel,” she said.

Previously in 2009:

More than 40 Australian academics have signed a statement calling for a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions.

The statement said: “There can be no academic freedom in Israel/Palestine unless all academics are free and all students are free to pursue their academic desires.”

The statement by was launched by the Committee for the Dismantlement of Zionism on March 30, Palestinian Land Day.

In 2009, the now-defunct UWSSA passed a resolution in support of academic BDS. Before this, in February 2008, the RMIT Students Union called for support for academic BDS against Israeli academic institutions.

Related Links

Students call for Israeli uni boycott

Professor Lynch said that if Sydney University academics co-operated with Technion, “they risk condoning and in a sense internalising” such alleged anti-Palestinian practices.

Government and Coalition frontbenchers have opposed Professor Lynch’s BDS campaign, with opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop saying academic units that support BDS should not be given federal research grants.

But Professor Lynch last night said this would be a mockery of free speech, noting Tony Abbott had recently said the role of academic institutions was to “speak truth to power.

Zionist Alhadeff hasn’t noticed that Israel doesn’t want Palestinian statehood.

The chief executive officer of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, Vic Alhadeff, described the passing of the SRC motion as “an exercise in empty symbolism and immature spite”.

“It will do nothing to advance Palestinian statehood,” he said. “Trying to shut down collaborative research between universities in the areas of science and medicine is immoral. It can only exacerbate the conflict.”